USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced new changes to the Federal crop insurance program for organic farming practices. On Feb. 22, 2013, USDA's Office of Inspector General issued an audit of the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Federal crop insurance program for organic farming practices. The audit found that Transitional yields* (T-Yield), offered to organic growers generally exceeded what they had produced using organic farming practices for the crop years of 2008-2010.
Although Washington is getting a lot of buzz on its labeling bill, Oregon is also a hotbed of activity in the fight against genetically engineered (GE) crops. Citizens in Jackson County (in Southern Oregon) have successfully achieved getting a GE crop ban on the May 2014 ballot. Citizens in four other Oregon counties are also hard at work on similar county GE crop bans.
The million-strong Organic Consumers Association (OCA), North America’s leading watchdog over organic and fair trade standards, announced today at the national Expo-West Natural Products convention, along with its allies in the organic and natural health community, a new nationwide campaign: the Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA). This new alliance of public interest groups and food producers and retailers, including co-ops, natural food stores, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) buying clubs and wholesalers, will aggressively promote organic food and products, and expose and eliminate the misleading practice of “natural” labeling and marketing that has slowed the growth of America’s $30-billion dollar organic sector.
Organic Producer is an online free subscription exploring organic topics. Watch their interview with Aaron Zeis, Oregon Tilth Certification Officer.
USDA’s Risk Management Agency this week announced the removal, starting in 2014, of the five percent premium surcharge assessed against all organic farmers seeking federal crop insurance. This penalty against organic farming has been an issue NSAC has campaigned against for nearly a decade and we are delighted to finally report significant progress.
According to a new report by the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA), organic food companies are increasingly adopting a wide range of sustainability initiatives. Indeed, according to the first SFTA Annual Member Sustainability Report, member companies used less energy, created less waste, reduced their carbon footprints, and donated to the community considerably more in 2011 (the reporting year) than the previous year.
The Organic Center has signed an agreement with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for ARS scientists to conduct targeted research on the factors affecting the presence of arsenic in organically grown rice. Making this research possible is a $50,000 grant to The Organic Center from the newly formed UNFI Foundation.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements announced the formation of a new group to advance organic agriculture research. Known as the Technology Innovation Platform of IFOAM (TIPI), the new group will address innovation and technology transfer needs in organic agriculture. TIPI will foster international cooperation; engage all who benefit from advances in knowledge; facilitate information exchange; and assist practitioners to disseminate, apply and implement innovations and scientific knowledge consistent with the principles of Organic Agriculture.
A new study at Oregon State University (OSU) has shown that dairy cows fed flaxseed produce more nutritious milk, including more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat, than that produced by cows fed a traditional feed mixture of corn, grains, alfalfa hay and grass silage. In the study, ten pregnant cows at OSU’s dairy were fed different amounts of flaxseed. Collaborators in OSU’s food science and technology department then turned the milk produced into butter and fresh cheese, and then tested them for texture and nutritional composition.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are showing that farmers can fine-tune their use of cover crops to help manage costs and maximize benefits in commercial organic production systems. ARS horticulturist Eric Brennan has helped design a long-term investigation examining several different cover cropping strategies for an annual organic lettuce-broccoli production system. Six of the strategies involved cover cropping every winter, and the other two involved cover cropping every fourth winter. Studied were rye, mustard, and a legume-rye mix cover crops.
The National Organic Program (NOP) is pleased to announce four new resources for its Program Handbook including: The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed, Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production, Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and Sources of Vitamins and minerals for Organic Livestock Feed, and Responding to Results from Pesticide Residue Testing.
At its October 2012 meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommended that the National Organic Program (NOP) take several actions. In advance of the April 2013 NOSB meeting, the NOP has published a response to these recommendations.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is now accepting public comments on its spring 2013 proposals. A small block of rooms has been set aside for the public. To get the Government per diem rate ($113.00 per night), call the hotel by March 22nd and ask for the USDA block.
The National Organic Program (NOP) has posted the tenth blog in the Organic 101 series: Strengthening Organic Integrity through Residue Testing. Also, check out the funding opportunity through the Organic Transitions Program.
If you are attending the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) conference later this week, we hope you will visit us in booth 713! Also, view a report summarizing market opportunities from the United States/European Union organic trade partnership.
NOP's new organic livestock fact sheet summarizes: Standards for all livestock, Allowed and prohibited substances, Ruminant pasture requirements, Benefits of organic and pasture-based management
Newly created position will provide scientific leadership to advance organic food and farming. The Organic Center named Jessica Shade, Ph.D., to serve in its newly created position of Director of Science Programs. She began working for The Organic Center Feb. 19..
The 3rd North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) was hosted in San Francisco on Jan 22-23rd. Improve efficiencies in food supply chains was the resounding message from the summit, which brought together over 160 senior executives from the food industry. A number of speakers highlighted the inefficiencies in food production, distribution and consumption.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced Wisconsin will receive $1.5 million this year to address conservation needs in the Driftless Area through a special Landscape Conservation Initiative. The focus will be to reduce soil erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitat on the working lands, woodlands, prairies, and cold water streams in the Driftless Area. This is the second year of funding for this initiative.
The National Organic Program (NOP) is pleased to announce proposed amendments to the crops and processing sections of the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. The NOP is requesting public comments on the following proposed changes to the National List: Potassium hydroxide, Silicon dioxide, Beta-carotene extract color, Annatto extract color, Peracetic acid